Objective: Current evidence suggests that obesity is associated with alteration of sweet taste perception. The purpose of this study was to determine if nonsurgical cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)-based weight loss can cause a change in sweet taste perception. Methods: This case-control study consisted of 51 women aged 21-64 years. Twenty-seven with obesity or overweight were assigned to an obesity (OB) group (BMI: 29.8 ± 0.5 kg/m2) and 24 to a normal control (NC) group (BMI: 20.9 ± 0.3 kg/m2). The OB group underwent a 30-week weight loss intervention using CBT-based group therapy. The results of measurement of detection threshold, suprathreshold perceived intensity, preference, and palatability, elements of sweet taste perception, were compared before and after the intervention. Psychological variables and appetite-related hormonal levels were measured. Results: Twenty-three patients and 22 controls completed the study. The OB group showed a 14.6% weight loss after the intervention. At baseline, the OB group preferred significantly higher sucrose concentrations than did the NC group; however, this difference was no longer significant after intervention. In the OB group, persistent pleasure and reduced desire for other taste, measured by repeated exposure to sweetness, normalized after weight loss to levels comparable to those seen in the NC group. No significant difference in discriminative perception of the threshold concentration or the suprathreshold sensory value was found between the two groups before or after intervention. A significant correlation was found between the basal preferred sucrose concentration and the serum leptin level of the OB group after adjusting for confounding factors, such as BMI, depressive symptom score, and trait-anxiety scores. Conclusions: Weight loss induced by CBT-based nonsurgical intervention resulted in the normalization of the sucrose preference and palatability of women with obesity. Leptin activity may be associated with the altered sweet taste preference of people with obesity.
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